Ellen A. Lumpkin, PhD

Ellen A. Lumpkin, PhD

Overview

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Somatosensory Biology (in Dermatology) and of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics

Administrative Titles

  • Co-director, Thompson Family Foundation Initiative in CIPN & Sensory Neuroscience

Gender

  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Honors & Awards

Schaefer Scholars Award

Research

The somatosensory system constantly updates the brain about the forces, temperatures and chemicals that bombard the body.  The goal of our research is to discover molecular mechanisms that encode these diverse environmental stimuli into neural signals. Our primary focus is to elucidate force transduction mechanisms that initiate the senses of touch and pain.   Although Aristotle designated it as one of five basic senses, touch is a complex sense that encompasses numerous modalities, such as pressure, hair movements and vibration.  Correspondingly, the touch-sensitive neurons that tile the body's surface display a remarkable array of force sensitivities, neural outputs and cellular morphologies.  Although forward genetic screens have identified numerous essential molecules in invertebrate mechanosensory neurons, we are only now beginning to uncover molecular players that govern the unique functions of mammalian touch receptors. We have developed in vitro and in vivo tools to discover the basis of sensory transduction in a discriminative touch receptor, the Merkel cell-neurite complex.  These touch receptors innervate high-acuity areas such as fingertips, where they encode spatial features of objects. We use neurophysiological techniques to directly observe how living touch receptors respond to force.  We also use molecular approaches and mouse genetics to identify molecules that allow mechanoreceptor cells to sense force.  Neural circuits that process tactile information are another area of interest.

Research Interests

  • Sensory Physiology
  • Biophysics/ion Channels
  • Synapses and Circuits
  • Cell Specification and Differentiation
  • Mechanosensory Transduction in Mammalian Touch Receptors

Grants

MECHANISMS OF MECHANOSENSORY TRANSDUCTION IN MERKEL CELLS (Federal Gov)

Jul 1 2016 - Jun 30 2021

NEUROPEPTIDERGIC SIGNALING MECHANISMS IN PERIPHERAL SENSORY NEURONS. (Private)

Sep 1 2017 - Aug 31 2020

CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF NEURONAL REMODELING IN HEALTHYTISSUE (Federal Gov)

Sep 1 2017 - Aug 31 2020

HUMAN ORAL INNERVATION AND SWALLOW STUDY (Private)

Nov 20 2017 - Feb 19 2019

NEUROCHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF HUMAN HAIR INNERVATION (P&S Industry Clinical Trial)

Feb 19 2014 - Feb 19 2019

PERIPHERAL MECHANISMS GOVERNING TACTILE ENCODING DURING NORMAL TARGET REMODELING (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2010 - Jul 31 2018

MOLECULAR BASIS OF TEXTURE PERCEPTION (Private)

May 11 2015 - Jun 30 2018

A CELLULAR BASIS FOR AGE-RELATED IMPAIRED TACTILE ACUITY (Federal Gov)

Jan 15 2014 - Dec 31 2015

AN OPTOGENETIC STRATEGY TO DETERMINE IF MERKEL CELLS ARE EXCITATORY IN THE SKIN (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2011 - Jul 31 2014

SYNAPTIC TRANSMISSION IN MAMMALIAN CUTANEOUS TOUCH RECEPTORS (Federal Gov)

Sep 2 2013 - Jun 1 2014

Selected Publications

Marshall, K. L., M. Chadha, L. Desouza, S. J. Sterbing-D’Angelo, C. F. Moss and E. A. Lumpkin.  Somatosensory substrates of flight control in bats.  Cell Rep. (2015) 11:851-8. PMID: 25937277.

Maksimovic, S. M., M. Nakatani, Y. Baba, A. M. Nelson, K. L. Marshall, S. A. Wellnitz, P. Firozi S.-H. Woo, S. Ranade, A. Patapoutian and E. A. Lumpkin. Epidermal Merkel cells are mechanosensory cells that actively tune mammalian touch receptors.  Nature. (2014) 509:617-621. Equal contribution. PMID: 24717432.

Woo, S.-H., S. Ranade, A. D. Weyer, A. E. Dubin, Y. Baba, Z. Qiu, M. Petrus, T. Miyamoto, K. Reddy, E. A. Lumpkin, C. L. Stucky and A. Patapoutian. Piezo2 is required for Merkel-cell mechanotransduction.  Nature. (2014) 509:622-626. PMID: 24717433.

Lesniak, D. R., K. L Marshall, S. A. Wellnitz, B. A. Jenkins, Y. Baba, M. N. Rasband, G. J. Gerling and E. A. Lumpkin.  Computation Identifies Structural Features that Govern Neuronal Firing Properties in Slowly Adapting Touch Receptors.  eLife. (2014) 3:e01488. Equal contribution. PMID: 24448409

Wilson, S., A. M. Nelson, L. Batia, T. Morita, D. M. Owens, E. A. Lumpkin and D. M. Bautista.  TRPA1 is required for chronic itch. J. Neurosci. (2013) 33: 9283–9294.  PMID: 23719797.

Maksimovic, S. M., Y. Baba and E. A. Lumpkin.  Neurotransmitters and synaptic components in the Merkel cell-neurite complex, a gentle-touch receptor.  Ann. NY Acad. Sci. (2013) 1279: 13–21.

Woo, S. H., M. Stumpfova, U. Jensen, E. A. Lumpkin and D. M. Owens.  Identification of epidermal progenitors for the Merkel cell lineage. Development. (2010) 137: 3965–3971.  PMID: 21041368.

Wellnitz, S. A., D. R. Lesniak, G. J. Gerling and E. A. Lumpkin.  (2010) The regularity of sustained firing reveals two populations of slowly adapting touch receptors in mouse hairy skin.  J. Neurophysiol. 103:3378–3388.  PMID: 20393068. 



Maricich, S. M., S. Wellnitz, A. M. Nelson, D. R. Lesniak, G. J. Gerling, E. A. Lumpkin* and H. Zoghbi* (2009) Merkel cells are essential for light touch responses in mice.  Science.  324:1580–1582. *Corresponding. 



Bhattacharya, M. R. C., D. M. Bautista*, K. Wu, E. A. Lumpkin* and D. Julius* (2008)  Radial stretch reveals distinct populations of mechanosensitive mammalian somatosensory neurons. PNAS 105: 20015-20020. *Corresponding.



Haeberle H., L. A. Bryan, T. J. Vadakkan, M. E. Dickinson and E. A. Lumpkin (2008)  Swelling-activated calcium channels trigger calcium transients in Merkel cells. PLoS ONE 3(e1750): 1-10. 



Piskorowski R. A., H. Haeberle, M. V. Panditrao and E. A. Lumpkin (2008)  Voltage-activated ion channels and Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release shape Ca2+ signaling in Merkel cells.  Pflugers Archiv 457: 197-209. PMID: 18415122.



Lumpkin, E. A. and M. J. Caterina (2007)  Mechanisms of sensory transduction in the skin.  Nature.  445: 858-865. PMID: 17314972. 



Haeberle, H., M. Fujiwara, J. Chuang, M. M. Medina, M. V. Panditrao, S. Bechstedt, J. Howard and E. A. Lumpkin (2004)  Molecular profiling reveals synaptic release machinery in Merkel cells.  PNAS 101: 14503-14508.  PMID: 15448211